Nebraska (19-6) took care of business last week, taking down Maryland 3-0 and Indiana 3-1, and held steady at No. 11 in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll as a result. The Huskers also moved up two spots to No. 13 in the latest NCAA RPI.
Freshman Lexi Rodriguez led the way defensively for the Huskers with 22 digs in each match, and the Big Ten recognized her as the conference’s defensive player of the week. It’s her second Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and fifth weekly award overall as she has won Big Ten Freshman of the Week three times. Rodriguez averaged 6.29 digs, 1.57 assists and 0.57 aces per set against the Terrapins and Hoosiers.
— Husker Volleyball (@Huskervball) November 15, 2021
There was some significant jumbling of teams in spots four through nine in the AVCA poll thanks to an eventful week in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin (21-3) dropped one spot to No. 4 after a 1-1 week. Purdue (20-5) beat both the Badgers (for the second time this season) and Minnesota to move up three spots to No. 6. The Golden Gophers (17-7) dropped one spot to No. 9 after the loss.
Ohio State (21-5) went 2-0 and remained at No. 10. Penn State, Nebraska’s next opponent, held at No. 15. Illinois (17-10) moved up one spot to No. 24. Michigan (15-10) is eighth among other teams also receiving votes with five points.
Louisville (24-0) remains at No. 1 and received all but three first-place votes. Utah (18-7) dropped one spot to No. 17 despite beating both Arizona schools. Stanford moved up one spot to No. 19 after splitting against ranked teams in Washington and Washington State. Creighton (26-3) moved up two spots to No. 21.
Last week’s results were significant because they allowed Nebraska to pull back into a tie with Wisconsin atop the Big Ten standings. Both teams are 13-3 with four matches remaining. Purdue’s wins have the Boilermakers tied with Minnesota and Penn State at 12-4. Ohio State is 11-5, Illinois is 9-7 and Michigan is 8-8. The rest of the teams are below .500 in conference play.
Nebraska controls its own destiny, but the path to a Big Ten title will not be easy. The Huskers will face Penn Sate and Rutgers at home this week before closing out the regular season on the road at Wisconsin and Purdue. Nebraska beat the Boilermakers in Lincoln in four sets on Oct. 23 and Penn State in four in University Park on Oct. 8, but the Huskers haven’t beaten Wisconsin since 2017 and fell to the Badgers in Lincoln straight sets on Oct. 27.
Nebraska will host the Nittany Lions on Friday at 8 p.m.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.